John and Monique Ward live on a bayou in Ocean Springs.
Their neighborhood is one of the most birdy spots in Mississippi. I and my gang of Hattiesburg birders have often found success on the streets and paths of the neighborhood.
And for the last decade or so, we "northerners" have been privileged to cover this area in the Jackson County Christmas Bird Count. In other worlds, we feel at home in this territory, and we feel that we cover the birds pretty well but this year we missed one important species. But let Monique tell you the story in her own words.
We have always enjoyed birds but really got interested and took a birding class about two years ago after we had a visitor from the West in our yard in January of 2012. I was able to photograph the bird and confirm it was a female Bullock's Oriole, which had only been documented in the State four other times, but with no photos. My photograph was the first in the state.
This year we are being visited by the male Bullock's Oriole. This bird has been visiting us since Friday, January 17th and was still in our yard this morning. I have been able to photograph him as well. This also, is the first photograph of a male Bullock's Oriole in the state of Mississippi.
This is a beautiful bird and we are happy that local and state birders have had an opportunity to see our bird. We thought you might also be interested, too.
You bet I was! I started canvassing our Hattiesburg irregulars, and quickly found out that a trip to the Coast was already scheduled.
We spent the morning of February 1 chasing Mississippi Sandhill Cranes and then high-tailed it out to the bayou neighborhood. Birds were everywhere, and so were the telltale signs of Oriole feeding-- orange halves riding spikes. The neighborhood was eaten up with small flocks of birds, many of them clustered around John and Monique's feeders, but there were no orange birds to be found.
I don't know, but I expect that that the Ward's special guests could feel the front coming, and they scooted back to their summer homes west of the Rockies.
But Monique sent me some photos for us who missed the visitors this year. Keep an eye out!